Pitcairn Island

untitled-113 Relative of Christianuntitled-25 Wood carveruntitled-16 Bounty AnchorJSimon Pitcairn LookoutDSCF0260Pitcairn Island December 13-14, 2014

Pictures include: grave of one of Fletcher Christian’s relatives, wood carver with model of Bounty, anchor from the Bounty, cave where Bounty crew watched for British, rugged rocks with swimming hole.

On board we watched the MGM version of “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando. As it finished we went on deck to see Pitcairn Island coming into view on the horizon. Such an amazing feeling! The Orion sailed around the island as we listened to the commentary of three residents of Pitcairn Island who had been in London trying to convince the UK to support the oceans around the Island as Pristine Seas. We learned they are building another harbor they hope will be a little calmer than the one at Bounty Bay. Several rockeries for nesting birds on rocks around the island showed an abundance of birds, but limited to a very few species out here. There are only 4 endemic birds on the island.

In 1789 nine of the mutineers from the Bounty along with 6 Tahitian men, eleven women, and a baby left Tahiti to find refuge on one of the islands, hoping the British Navy would never find them. Six months later after sailing through Polynesia, they found Pitcairn Island mismarked by 175 miles on Captain Cook’s charts. Fletcher Christian, now captain of the Bounty thought this would be the ideal place to hide. Unfortunately the English and Polynesia men did not get along and so murdered each other. By 1808 when the next ship (American trading ship Topaz) came to the island there was only one British man, John Adams along with 8 Polynesian women.   Today in the cemetery are names of Christian, McCoy, Warren and Young. Everyone on the island today traces his or her family roots back to the mutineers.

Alan and I walked through much of the island with very steep hills. There is a town square that is surrounded by a post office, a church (Seventh Day Adventist), a school and government office. The square in the center is where the island residents gather to celebrate important holidays like Christmas. With only 50 residents on the island, everyone knows each other. We learned that many of the introduced plants and animals have raised havoc with the indigenous fauna and flora. At one time there were 600 goats on the island but now only 50. Rats are a huge problem on many of the islands where European ships landed hundreds of years ago. Rats eat everything including turtle and bird eggs along with grain and other foodstuffs. We walked through the village to find remnants of the Bounty after it was burned and sunk in the bay to hide evidence of the Bounty: the ship’s bell, several canons, the anchor, and the Bible in the church.

Pitcairn lies at 25 degrees south. So it is colder here than further toward the equator. One friendly lady with a beautiful flower garden told us that it even hailed on the island once. They do get earthquakes and a few hurricanes, but right now residents need water for their cisterns. All island water comes from rain.

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